All of us goof up.
I likely will blunder as many times today as I did yesterday. But I need not repeat the same missteps. If I am smart, I’ll learn the first time I goof-up not to do it again.
Here are common ways people goof up.
- They goof up when they presume to pat or rub the baby bump of a woman they have never met.
- They goof up when they violate someone else’s personal space, perhaps by standing too near in an uncrowded elevator. (People prefer a personal space of about 1.5 to 4 feet in all directions.)
- Clerks goof up when they address adults over the age of 50 with terms like dearie, sweetie and honey.
- Medical staff goof up when they ask a patient, “How are we feeling today?” Likewise, restaurant servers goof up by asking a patron, “What are we having today?”
- A friend told me yesterday she once said happily to a woman, “Oh, Darla! I didn’t know you were pregnant!” Darla explained she was NOT pregnant, and my friend prayed to sink through the floor.
You may have goofed up when you told a parent he had a beautiful baby boy when the sweet little baldie was a girl. Avoid this goof-up by saying, “You have a beautiful baby!” Full stop.
Some people make a habit of goofing up (slightly different from goofing off) at work.
I stood in line at the customer service department in a big, we-have-everything store. The man in front of me asked the service clerk how to fix a problem he had with his TV.
The young female clerk never changed her expression.
“No idea,” she said.
The man elaborated.
“No idea,” the clerk said.
When my turn came, I too asked a question about an electronics purchase, and I received the same two-word response.
Was that the extent of her professional vocabulary?
The sign on the wall behind the girl read Customer Service Department. A misnomer, perhaps?
The goof-ups committed by people using their phones are numberless.
- talking on the phone while transacting business
- blocking a store aisle while talking or texting
- playing Candy Crush while stopped at red lights
- ignoring children and adults who need their attention
I have goofed up in embarrassing ways.
- When I was a church secretary, I published an announcement that one of the church’s elderly members had died. She had not died. How do you construct a retraction to that goof-up?
- A few weeks ago, I started out to take a walk. I took with me a bottle of icy water. I stuck my water bottle into a sock belonging to our six-year-old grandson, so my hand wouldn’t freeze. When I got home, Dan asked about the water bottle in the sock and I explained. He reached into a kitchen cabinet and pulled out an insulated cover for cans and bottles. “Why didn’t you just use one of these?” he asked. Why, indeed.
- I have left buildings wearing someone else’s coat or carrying someone else’s purse. I have gotten into the wrong car in a parking lot. (I have yet to commit all three goof-ups in a single outing.)
- I once argued with a player, telling her she needed five checkers in a row to win a game of Connect Four.
We all goof up when we speak and when we write.
A woman met her doctor in the grocery store. She had seen him dressed only in scrubs and blurted out, “Oh. I almost didn’t recognize you with your clothes on.”
A therapist noted in her patient’s chart: “The leg continued to improve daily, and by the end of the week, it was entirely gone.”
In the report of a car accident, the driver of the car wrote, “The old man wouldn’t stay in one place. I had to swerve all over the road before I finally hit him.”
Avoid using incorrect words and phrases like these:
- For all intensive purposes (For all intents and purposes)
- Nip it in the butt (Nip it in the bud)
- Irregardless (Regardless)
- A doggy-dog world (A dog-eat-dog world)
- I could care less (I couldn’t care less)
- Should of (Should have)
- Less than 140 characters (Fewer than 140 characters)
Preachers and politicians goof up by talking longer than audiences will listen. And, alas, writers goof up by composing blog posts too long for their followers to read.